Tag Archives: Birth Parents

Pennsylvania Revocation Period

Adoption laws vary greatly from state to state. It’s best to learn your state’s specific adoption laws. If you end up getting matched with a child outside of your state, you should familiarize yourself with the adoption laws of that state as well. One aspect of adoption law that varies the most is the revocation period. This is how much time a state gives a birth mother or birth father to change their mind after signing consents for adoption. For the purposes of this blog, we are only going to discuss Pennsylvania’s Revocation Period. Down below you’ll find out who can sign consents, when consents can be signed, and what happens after the revocation period.

 

Who Can Sign Consents?

The birth mother and birth father of the child are required to sign consents. It is also possible for the birth father’s right to be involuntarily terminated without his consent. This depends on if he does not live with the child and is not married to the child’s mother. His rights can also be involuntarily terminated if the birth father has not made any effort to contact or provide financial support for 4 months. This is also called the Abandonment Period.

When does this happen?

A birth father can sign his consents before or immediately after birth. However, the birth mother is required to wait 72 hours after birth before signing.

The Revocation Period

Pennsylvania is among the few states that give birth parents 30 days to revoke their consent. Birth parents are given additional time if they have a claim of fraud or duress. The revocation period also cannot be waived in Pennsylvania. Birth parents’ consent is revocable if the court finds any fraud or duress. A petition must be filed within 60 days of the birth or the execution of consents (whichever is later). Or a petition must be filed 30 days after entering an adoption decree (whichever is earlier).

The Court Hearing

A court hearing will be held for the termination of parental rights. Birth parents are not required to attend, but they are required to receive notice of this hearing. The notice is typically sent via mail 10 days prior to the hearing and can also be signed in person.

 

 

 

Choosing the Right Family for Your Baby

If you’ve already made the decision of adoption, you may be thinking of the crucial next step of choosing a family. You want to make the best decision, but you might be feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel this way, this is could possibly be the toughest decision you ever make. The best thing to do is make the decision with the information you have. However, there are three questions you can ask yourself to help guide you through the adoption process. What are my child’s needs? What are my hopes, wishes, and wants for my child? What level of openness do I want in this adoption?

 

1.) What are my child’s needs?

It’s important to determine the needs your child might have. Once you figure out those needs you’ll be able to look for a family that can provide for them. You may want a family that is financially stable. You may want someone that is a stay-at-home mother/father who can spend adequate time with your baby. You may want the potential adoptive parents to be able to offer your child the opportunity of a good education. Some birth parents may even consider the location of the potential adoptive parents. There are a lot of aspects that may factor into your child’s needs. You may even consider your own childhood to help you decide what your child needs or doesn’t need.

 

2.) What are my hopes, wishes, and wants for my child?

This question is just as important as the one above. There might be certain things you may want for your child. You may want your child to be raised by someone with a college degree. Choosing a family that shares your religious beliefs may be a factor for you. What type of home do you want your child to be raised in? Do you want your child to be raised by a same-sex couple, heterosexual couple, or does it even matter? Did you want your child to grow up with siblings or be an only child? Is there a certain discipline style you don’t like? It’s best to contact the potential adoptive parents to ask questions and convey your hopes, wants, and wishes. This can help narrow down which family is best for your baby.

 

3.) What level of openness do I want in this adoption?

This is something you may want to discuss with your social worker or the adoptive parents. You want to make sure that your level of openness matches the adoptive parents. You may want yearly updates or visits. Or you may want more updates and a few visits a year. Are you and the adoptive parents comfortable with semi-openness or complete openness? You may even decide to have a closed adoption in the beginning and work up to being completely open. That’s okay too. Many adoptions start off closed or semi-open and evolve to a wonderfully open relationship with the adoptive parents. You just have to discover what’s right for you.

With decisions like these it’s hard to be confident that you made the right choice. We’d love to think that our choices come with guarantees, but they don’t. We can only make the best decision with the knowledge we have now. Weigh your options and decide what’s best for your baby & you. I’m a birth mother that placed 5 years ago and these are some of the questions that helped me. Of course, I second guessed myself, but I always felt comfortable with the decision I made and the family I chose. I chose what was best for my child’s needs and what was most important to me. That alone helped with this difficult decision.

I thought I couldn’t either…

If you are a birth mother that’s involved in a post placement, hopefully you are beginning to make peace with your decision. If you’re in involved in an open adoption, you realized the family you chose was a great a fit for your child. For some birth moms they gain more family through the adoptive parents. This can make your decision feel worthwhile as time goes on. Getting updates, letters, and pictures help tremendously on keeping you involved in your child’s life. Let’s not forget about the chat with the adoptive mother about the characteristics you and your child share. I am four years post placement and I must admit I am not the same person I was when I placed. I am different in the best of ways. I have matured and always keep an open mind. I love speaking to my son’s adoptive mother about all the crazy, cute things he does.

Unfortunately, from the outside looking in people don’t see the bright side of your story. Most people still have the negative misconception of adoption. The belief of all birth mothers are on drugs, homeless, or worse is untrue, unfair and yet people still believe it. The belief that you “gave up your child” because you didn’t want to be a parent is another common misconception. It cuts deeper when it comes from close friends & family that share the same misconceptions. What hurts worse is hearing the all-time line “I could never do that”. Once upon a time, we didn’t think that we could “do that” either. Fortunately, us birthparents thought with our heads instead of our hearts, so our child could have more opportunities in life. The further you get through post placement you begin to figure out good ways to dodge certain questions and even better ways to respond to them. I have chosen to discuss the two best ways to respond to people regarding your decision to use adoption.

  • Silence!

There is no better way to combat negativity or ignorance than with good, old silence. Especially with the statement I mentioned before the “I could never do that” line. I have heard this time after time and I always respond with silence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about anything. Keep in mind, that most people that say this have never been in the circumstances you have experienced. Also, this statement implies they are solely speaking with their hearts rather than their head. Placing your child because you wanted him/her to have a better life, both parents, or a loving & compassionate home is a great thing. It means that you are thinking past your own feelings and emotions for the good of your child. So, if your boyfriend’s sister wants to mention something about your adoption, ignore her to the high heavens. Some people may never truly understand.

 

  • Think about it, smile, & be kind when you speak.

I have had a few instances where some people weren’t being negative at all. They are generally surprised by our courage and call us brave. They are eager to learn more about your situation with adoption rather than shunning you. I have encountered people that wanted to hear about the brighter side of adoption rather than the side they are accustomed to. It’s okay to answer the questions you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to set the record straight and dispel the misconceptions. These conversations can be very therapeutic and make you feel empowered. You will be shocked at how some people look at birthparents as heroes. Your child is a blessing that made someone’s family whole.

 

 

Coping with post placement isn’t about struggling with your own emotions regarding your decision. It mainly consists of learning to deal with people who think you should feel a certain way. People have told me that I should be ashamed of myself, but I’m not ashamed. People have told me I will regret my decision in the long run, but I don’t. After all this time, I couldn’t imagine being without the adoptive parents I chose for my son. I wouldn’t change that for the world. Embrace your strength as a birthparent and everything negative will become a breeze in the wind.

Reasons To Choose Or Not To Choose Adoption

Deciding whether to parent or make an adoption plan can be a difficult decision. There are many factors that play into finding the right fit for your situation. Am I financially ready to parent? Will my family & friends support my decision? Better yet, does my partner support the idea of adoption? These are all very important questions to consider. Although it can be overwhelming, take your time to research and weigh all of options. Down below are reasons to choose or not to choose adoption.

 

  • I’m not emotionally ready.

Like all new experiences adoption may seem scary at first. This is a normal feeling to have and you will overcome with time. The best thing to do at this point is get all the research you can. The internet is a great source of information. Read adoption blogs by expectant/birth parents. Research the advantages of open adoption. You will discover that open adoption can be a happy journey. Most adoptive parents respect their birth mothers enough to view them as additional family members. Both adoptive & birth parents join together in the best interest of the child.

  • The belief of taking responsibility for your own actions.

Fact of the matter is making an adoption plan takes great responsibility. By setting aside your own needs and wants to consider what is best for your child is taking full responsibility. You may have already considered your financial status, your educational future (if deciding to further your education), and support from your partner or family. These things factor into whether you should choose an adoption plan. The next big step is choosing a family that will give your child a loving, safe, & secure environment. Not to mention choosing a family that aligns with what you would like to provide your child. Completing these tasks mean that you love your child and that you are taking responsibility for their care & happiness.

  • My partner doesn’t like the idea of making an adoption plan.

Your partner may not feel comfortable making an adoption plan. If at any point he doesn’t feel ready to parent or able to financially/emotionally support the child, adoption may be an option. Discuss the concerns that may arise. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an adoption agency to go over your options, rights, and questions.

  • I was raised that if I get pregnant I keep the baby.

Family values can either persuade or dissuade your decision on adoption. It is important to remember that this is your choice to make. What works for one person may not work for others. Everyone’s situation is unique in its own way.

 

  • Wanting someone to love you.

There is nothing that can compare to a child’s love. However, having a child that will love you isn’t always in the best interest of the child. You have to prioritize the child’s needs over your own. Placing them with a secure and stable family is the most important aspect.

 

Consider these aspects when deciding if adoption is right for you or not. Make sure to do your research on adoption and other options that may be available to you. Talk them over with your partner and/or someone that you trust. If you choose open adoption, be aware that you are not leaving your child, but expanding your family. Find an adoption agency that best fits you and talk to a social worker about any concerns.

 

 

The Birth Parent Perspective in Open Adoptions: A Focus on Birth Fathers

Birth mother’s are often times front and center when open adoption is being discussed, but it is important that birth father’s are not left out of the conversation.

AFTH Birthfathers
A Deeper Look at the Emotional Impact for Birth Fathers

Mary Martin Mason, the author of Out of the Shadows: Birthfathers’ Stories, conducted in depth interviews of several birth father’s.

Mason defines birth fathers as “men who have fathered a child whom they are not parenting.” Her in-depth interviews of birth fathers include those of various ages, races and backgrounds. While most have no contact with their children, a few are participating in open adoptions. Three of the men married their child’s birth mothers after relinquishment, but the majority of those interviewed have lost contact with the birth mother and child.

The Post-Placement Experience

Mason explains that because the birth father experience is an unknown to most people, few support systems exist.

• Despite the existence of millions of birth fathers as a subculture, these men continue to stay “under wraps.” One of the reasons that many of them keep their experience a secret is that to speak about it publicly can result in baffled silence or worse, criticism. Even well-meaning friends and co-workers are perplexed as to how to respond to a birth father.
• One birthfather explained that “nobody knew how to approach me. They all knew we were pregnant. They all knew we were giving the baby up for adoption, so nobody came down and understood how to say….” — Randy chokes on the words he needed to hear — “Congratulations, and I’m sorry.”

The grief and sadness felt by birth fathers after relinquishment and placement can fall along a spectrum and varies depending on the individual. Professionals suggest that healing can really begin once the individual has had the opportunity to address and process their pain. Finding positive outlets for your energy is another way birth father’s can move forward. Take an active role in the adoption community and share your story with others!

“Being a birth father has come to be a thing of pride,” one birthfather said to Mason. “As we come out of the shadow, we can say we are men who have gotten into difficult situations and considered the best option for our child. We should take pride in that.”

Birthfather Pride

Becoming a Birth Father

Darrcik Rizzo is a birth father who became an advocate for adoption and how beautiful it can be, but it didn’t always start off that way. In an excerpt from one of his blog posts, he outlines his initial struggle with comprehending exactly what adoption would mean for his son.

After immense persuasion from my girlfriend, I reluctantly found myself browsing for information about open adoption. The more I read about it, the more I found myself questioning my initial reaction and trying to figure out fatherhood through open adoption. When I realized that open adoption allowed me to be a part of my baby’s life from the very beginning, I felt that open adoption might be the right way to go for my child and also myself as a father. So I gave in, and agreed to the concept of open adoption. Through this experience I found myself wholly involved in each and every step of the adoption process.

Through the process we learned about couples interested in adopting as well as the two kinds of open adoption. One kind of open adoption was totally open while the other was semi-open—where letters and pictures would be facilitated between the birth parents, adoption agency and the adoptive parents. At first I was quite apprehensive of the couples who were interested. I had no clue of how I would be able to know that they would care for my child like their own. And unlike other adoption processes, I was without any professional that provided counseling through the entire adoption procedure. Through the process, my girlfriend and I got to sit with five potential adoptive parents, interview them, and then decide on who would be perfect for our child. Out of the five couples, we found the perfect parents, who were in a biracial relationship just like my girlfriend and I.

The decision-making process was complicated, emotional, and overshadowed other activities in my life. The pregnancy and adoption were happening while I was in school and I could hardly concentrate because this was about more than just books and making it big in life. This was my child we were talking about. I wasn’t willing to “give up” my child; I felt responsible for his well-being. Thank God for open adoption. Through it I knew that my child would know his birth father from the start and I would not have to miss out on the important days of my child’s life.

Birth Father Rights in the Adoption Process

Birth fathers have legal rights during the adoption process and it is important to address that in this post. Most agencies and attorneys have specific procedures to make sure that birth fathers are indentified, located and that they are made aware of the adoption plan. In those situations, birth fathers are also informed about their rights. The birth father’s involvement and participation in the adoption plan is often times welcomed because when there is agreement, and legal papers consenting to the adoption are signed, his rights are being acknowledged. However, many adoptions proceed even if the birthfather is not located and has not signed consent forms and these situations carry a degree of risk. If you are a birth father and want a better understanding of your rights or if you are an adoptive family and want to gain a better understanding of adoption law, explore these links further:
http://afth.org/pregnant/info-for-fathers/
http://www.americanadoptions.com/adoption/birth_father_rights
http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/adoption-and-fathers-rights.html

Conclusion

Open adoption is a lifelong journey for all members of the adoption family, including birth fathers. Their stories should be told and their rights protected. If you have any helpful resources for birth fathers please share them with us, we are always looking for new ways to help all members of the adoption community because we must not forget, adoption is love!

Another Perspective of Open Adoption: How Birth Grandparents Stay Involved and Build a Relationship

The popular news column, “Dear Abby,” featured a post by a caring grandmother that read:

Dear Abby: My teenage daughter will be giving birth soon, and she has decided to place her baby for adoption. I have told her that whatever she decides, I will support her decision. Here is the difficult part: This will still be my biological grandchild. When this beautiful child is lovingly handed over to the adoptive parents, I will be losing a grandchild. I am already in mourning. Are there other grandparents out there who are going — or have gone — through this and how are they coping? I already see a therapist, but I would still like to know how others are coping. — Un-grandparent in Ohio

Dear Un-grandparent: I wish you had told me more about the kind of adoption your daughter has chosen for her baby. If it is an open adoption in which she will be kept informed about the child’s milestones and progress, ask the adoptive couple if they would welcome you as an “extra” grandparent for the child. If I hear from others who have gone through this process, I will let you know, because I’m sure they will write to help you through your heartache.

This exchange inspired the following blog post about open adoption, adoptive families and birth grandparent’s involvement in life post placement.

Birth Grandparents and Open Adoption

The Early Stages of the Adoption Plan

Answers to Some of the Tough Questions

Learning of your child’s choice to make an adoption plan might leave you wanting to ask a lot of questions, here are some common questions and answers that other people in a similar position had about what adoption meant for them as grandparents.

Will I still be a grandparent if my child creates an adoption plan?

• What does being a grandparent mean to you?
• Does this vision fit with your child and the adoptive family’s vision?
• How do you see yourself being involved in an ongoing relationship with your birth grandchild?

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Your grandchild will always be a part of your life regardless of whether your child chooses to parent or place the child with an adoptive family and open adoption gives you the option to send updates and be updated on their life.

Can my child handle the emotional strain of making an adoption plan?

• How has your child coped with grief and loss in the past?
• How have you managed loss in your own life?
• Are you in some ways blaming yourself for your child’s current circumstances?
• What family rituals are in place to commemorate losses?

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The life experiences of your child may be very different from your own. It is important to step back and realize that this will be one of the biggest and most difficult first decisions as a parent that your child will make. They need to decide what the best thing will be for their child.

How can I best demonstrate my love and understanding for my child?

• How can you support your child no matter their decision?
• What can you do to prepare yourself for this life change?
• What role does your child want you to play while they are contemplating their decision?
• What expectations does your child have of you should they choose to parent or plan an adoption?

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Give yourself permission to grieve the upcoming changes in the life of your child, no matter their choice. Ask for help if you need it and if you don’t know what to say sometimes just being there shows you care. Birth grandparents usually have some kind of influence the birth parents’ decision to parent, abort or place the child for adoption. It is important to not to have your wishes pressure or sway your child during the decision making process. They might be make a different choice than you believe to be right, but in the end it is their decision and having you, the grandparent, as a support system for them is what they need most.

How can I stay involved with my birth grandchild and their adoptive parents after placement?

“We have experienced parenting, so we know what we’ll miss, whereas a young birth mom doesn’t always realize this,” said Janice Widner, whose daughter placed a child for adoption years ago, in a Chicago Tribune article. “So for birth grandparents, adoption can be harder emotionally.” It is not uncommon for birth grandparents to feel less important in the adoption process because the birthparent’s have the final say when it comes to open adoption. Keep in mind that this is your grandchild and that is different than being a parent again, help and support your child make the best decision for their life.

Birth Grandmother with grandchildren
If your child is placing through open adoption, it might be a good idea to have a conversation with your child about your desire to be a part of your grandchild’s life after placement. You and your child could approach the adoptive parents and ask them how they feel about grandparent involvement in the child’s life as well and agree upon something that works for everyone involved. One grateful birth grandmother responded to the Dear Abby post explaining that each summer the adoption agency her daughter and son-in-law placed through sponsors a picnic that is attended by birth and adoptive parents as well as grandparents, other family members and of course the adopted child. Adoptions From The Heart hosts a picnic just like this one in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Connecticut.

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Other ideas of ways to stay involved and connected from actual adoptive parents who have maintained relationships with their child’s birth grandparents include:
• Crochet a baby blanket, sew a quilt or if you aren’t crafty head to a nearby store and purchase a baby blanket.
• A photo album, collage, or just pictures of the baby’s birth parents as they were growing up. It will be wonderful for your grandchild to see themselves in their birthparent’s at different ages and adoptive parents like to have photos of other members of their child’s birth family!
• A family tree and compete medical history from your perspective would be an invaluable gift because birth parents don’t always know as many ins and outs as you might.
• Write letters. Some adoptive parents keep scrapbooks or binders with letters, cards and items from birth families for their children
• We keep in touch via email and visits; sometimes we meet halfway in between our homes to go to the zoo or aquarium.

Building a Relationship to Last a Lifetime

Having a relationship with a grandchild is a desire for some birth grandparents and building that relationship through honest communication with birth parents and adoptive parents can help make that possible. Whether it is letting the adoptive family know of your love and support through letters and visits, or establishing a valued friendship by going the extra mile, it might just make all the difference.

Similar Building Beautiful Families Blog Posts:

https://afth.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/bith-grandparents-how-can-i-stay-involved

Outside Resources:

http://withlove-birthgrandma.blogspot.com/
http://oliveyouforever2011.blogspot.com/
http://birth-grandma.blogspot.com/

Adoptive Father Planned to Run 50K for Birthmother Fundraiser and Awareness, Now the Search is On

Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions and a lot of people are planning to get in shape and eat healthy. Adoptions From The Heart, a non-profit, full service adoption agency based in Wynnewood, PA is planning their third annual Find Her Footing 5K for Sunday, April 12th originally with a very special addition.

Adoptions From The Heart Find Her Footing 5K

Adoptive father, Chris Staehle was planning on running a 50K…that’s right…31 miles from the AFTH office in Delaware to the start of the Find Her Footing 5K at Delaware County Community College in Pennsylvania. A running accident and a torn ACL will keep him from running his planned course, but he is still dedicated to supporting the mission of AFTH. The inaugural AFTH Find Her Footing 5K in 2013 was Staehle’s first 5K and it inspired him to keep on running. “What better way to complete my first ultra marathon than to do complete it while raising money and awareness for the birthmother fund? If I can help make a difference for someone who is involved in the adoption process, then it will all be worth it,” he explained.

The Inspiration Behind the Man

Chris and his wife began working with Adoptions From The Heart in November of 2012 and adopted their son in December 2013. “My wife and her sisters are adopted, so we strongly believe in and support the work that Adoptions From The Heart does for thousands of families and the community,” Chris said. “In addition to raising awareness and funds for AFTH, I’m hoping to prove that average people working full time and raising a family can truly push their physical and mental limits with this sort of undertaking.”

Chris pointed to a quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson that spoke to him when considering the upcoming 50K, “in whatever you choose to do, do it because it’s hard, not because it’s easy. For every hard thing you accomplish, fewer other people are out there doing the same thing as you. And in the limit of this, everyone beats a path to your door because you’re the only one around who understands the impossible concept or who solves the unsolvable problem.” With this 50K undertaking, Chris would have been doing just that. He hoped that he can turn this accomplishment into an annual event and that more people will dare to tackle the distance alongside him. “If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Chris remarked confidently. Now… we call to you to make the 50K a reality once again, here is how.

How to Keep Up: On Social Media and On Race Day

Chris was planning on updating his social media accounts, @AFTH_50k on Twitter, Instagram, Vine and afth50k.wordpress.com, which you can be sure to follow for up to date information on his recovery and training process. AFTH wants to encourage other runners to consider taking on this long distance and Chris has helped to prepare you for the feat.

Chris’s Top Tips for Running a 5K (or a 50K)

AFTH Chris Staehle's 5K Tips1. Always remember, you get what you pay for. You don’t have to always buy top-of-the line sneakers and gear, but never go with the cheap stuff. Go to a specialty running store, like Bryn Mawr Running Company, to get professionally fitted for sneakers, or give a few different brands a try before you embark on a long-term training plan – some stores will have generous return policies, but always check before you buy.
2. The more miles you run and more time you spend running require more carbs, but try and give yourself at least two hours after a meal before running. Natural fruits and veggies give you much more energy than energy bars or gels, but may not be so convenient to carry during a race (that’s when the gels/bars come in handy).
3. If you need to run with music by all means, rock out as you wish, but keep the following in mind. When running on busy roads or in parks, you need to be aware of your surroundings (for your safety as well as safety of others). Wearing headphones/earbuds also cuts off the sounds of your breathing and your focus on body movements/stride/gait. Pay attention to your body.
4. Avoid stretching without warming up, so do a quick 5 minute walk or slow jog to loosen up first. Always build in 10-15 minutes into your workout time for stretching so you aren’t cramming your stretches in. Focus on your legs and lower back, but give your arms and upper body a chance to loosen up as well.
5. Be realistic! Unless you think you can win the race, don’t kill yourself with training. Shoot for a personal best. Overtraining leads to frustration, frustration leads to more overtraining, overtraining leads to injury, and then you may lose your enjoyment of running. Better to back off the training and live to run another day than get injured trying to run a 14-minute 5k.
6. It takes a long time for your body to adjust to the cold weather. Start with 1-2 runs per week outside, maybe for 20-30 minutes each, and do your remaining runs on a treadmill. Every few weeks, add one more outside run to your schedule. Always try to run outside as a first option! The treadmill is in a controlled environment so your body may not adjust to the elements as fast, but if the weather is nasty outside or if you simply don’t have the time to gear up, sometimes the treadmill may be the only option. It’s better to run on a treadmill than not run at all!

Are You Ready for the Find Her Footing 5K?

With Chris inspiring the community, Adoptions From The Heart hopes that local community will come together to support open adoptions and birthparents who are in need. Join in the conversation online through the agency’s social media or with Chris directly and don’t forget to register for the 3rd Annual Find Her Footing 5K by visiting http://tinyurl.com/FindHerFooting3. As an added bonus, if you use the code RUN4AFTH by the end of February you will save $5 off the registration cost! Happy Training!